On a night when Joe Girardi devised an ingenious managerial plan only to see it destroyed by David Robertson’s tired right arm the Yankees escaped with a 6-5 victory thanks to the skittish performance of Orioles closer Jim Johnson.

For the second time this week the Yankees won courtesy of a wild pitch. Johnson uncorked the fateful pitch this time which allowed Brendan Ryan to score from second. Johnson had placed Ryan in scoring position when he committed a throwing error on an attempted bunt by catcher Chris Stewart.

“That was the difference” Girardi said.

Thanks to Johnson the Yankees (79-68) captured the final three games of this four-game series and remained within a game of Tampa Bay in the Wild Card race. They did so on a night when Robertson showed the strain of his workload.

Robertson entered with a three-run lead. After a pair of two-out singles he gave it all back when Danny Valencia boomed a three-run homer in the eighth. "It sucks" Robertson said. "It just happens. It's part of the game."

Robertson received a few days off earlier this week due to shoulder tendinitis. Both Robertson and Girardi downplayed the connection between the injury and the results.

“I thought he just missed his spots a little bit” Girardi said. “That’s all.”

The meltdown by Robertson scuttled Girardi’s creative solution for the hole in his team’s rotation. Lacking a suitable fifth starter Girardi molded Phil Hughes and Huff into a tandem. Hughes tossed the first three innings. When a runner reached in the fourth Girardi inserted Huff. When Huff faltered in the seventh he departed. The result: Six combined innings of two-run baseball.

Until Robertson combusted the duo held the line as the offense sustained yet another injury. Brett Gardner strained his left oblique in the first inning and could be lost for the season. His replacement Curtis Granderson smashed a seventh-inning homer but the loss of Gardner still stings. Mark Reynolds opened the Yankees’ scoring with the 200th home run of his career. Vernon Wells pitched in with a two-run single.

A late-summer shower delayed the start an hour and 18 minutes. In the game’s first at-bat the Yankees lost their starting center fielder.

With the count full Gardner checked his swing on a slider from Wei-Yin Chen. The pitch was a strike. Gardner was out. That wasn’t the worst part: He flinched after the swing.